Over the past few months I've been refining a short story commissioned by a leading literary journal. The piece is autobiographical, bleak, and, in the editor's opinion, very good. A few days ago, a lawyer for the journal advised against publishing the story because he felt it might provoke a defamation suit – even though he conceded that the alleged defamation was mild. He also added this inappropriate, condescending advice: "While it may well be a cathartic thing for her to be so open about it, I would like to know she had been adequately counselled on the implications of going so public". Leaving aside the ludicrous idea that I might be so fragile and naïve a personality that such counselling was necessary, I wondered if the lawyer had looked at the journal or its website, where a leading critic touts it as “demanding, disturbing and superb collection of writing by some of the best and most subtle thinkers and writers in the country”.The female editor and I had many conversations about the need for stories like mine to be told. Both of us were aware of the controversy and cost that might result from its publication. From my point of view, I'd kept quiet for so long about the series of ugly incidents – including threats of rape, sexual harrassment and financial manipulation – and its perpetrators that it damaged me much more than any public fallout this story might cause. The editor has decided that, for her, caution might be the better part of valour but I am fucked if I am going to stay silent and not publish what I want.
I'll do what I usually do and work outside the system – maybe with a little more ferocity than usual, even for me.